Auckland Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS) is recommending that raw or marinated fish brought in by Pacific relatives should be off the menu, after a rise in food poisoning.
Public Health has seen an increase in Shigella cases, a type of severe gastroenteritis caused by a bacteria commonly found in the Pacific and India.
ARPHS is managing seven cases in Tongan families in South Auckland, with several of the cases eating raw or marinated fish which may have been brought in by family from the Pacific. The service is making sure the cases get the care they need.
ARPHS Medical Officer of Health, Dr David Sinclair, suggested that families be careful to cook any fish which has come in with visiting relatives from the Pacific.
Any fresh or frozen food carried into New Zealand through personal luggage can be risky, especially if it is not cooked when served, he says.
“The rates of food poisoning go up at this time of year and it’s not just shigella. There are many other forms of gastroenteritis and some people become sick after travel in the Pacific.
“We like to remind families going home to the Pacific to eat freshly cooked hot food,” Dr Sinclair says.
The symptoms of Shigella are similar to other types of food poisoning with diarrhoea, vomiting and abdominal cramps. Faeces (poo) may contain blood and mucus.
Dr Sinclair advises anyone with these symptoms and is concerned should see their general practitioner.
People with any symptoms of food poisoning should stay away from work or education until at least 24 – 48 hours after the symptoms stop.